Ecomonic Practice, Social Consequence Motivations and Methods of Zoning in American Communities
Mason, Charles F.
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Euclidean zoning, the dominant form of American land use zoning, has functioned on the separation of land uses with the purpose of reducing the negative effects of certain types of uses on others. As a result, communities have come to define l~d uses by "desirability" and their effects in terms of "nuisances." For example, the creation of use districts separates noisy or polluting industrial and commercial uses are from residential areas. However, these notions are also used to define specific housing types as more desirable than others. This has led to the exclusion or segregation of different forms of housing from communities, resulting in disparities. Researchers have argued that socioeconomic segregation has resulted primarily from zoning being used as a property rights measure to maintain land values. Research has also shown that Euclidean zoning has perpetuated specific economic and social notions that have only served to widen inequalities. Most existing research, however, has focused on the effects of Euclidean zoning, rather than the processes that result in those effects. Using interviews with public officials, administrators, and professionals, in combination with theories of Foucault, Gramsci, Massey, Hall and McGinty, and Form, among others, I show that zoning enables power to organize land uses for the ends of the planned economy. I argue that if communities seek to lessen socioeconomic segregation, they must redefine conventional zoning. This will not result in a redefinition of the "ends" of zoning, but rather a complete reorientation of assumptions about how zoning works to achieve those ends.